After Jesse Orosco struck out Marty Barrett, I lost my passion for the Mets. I don’t know why, but its never been the same. I just didn’t care as much in 1987 as I did in all the previous years, and with each passing year I cared less and less.
In 2007 I started rooting against the Mets because I saw how lazy and uninspired they played. My lasting memory is Lastings Milledge jogging after a ball hit by Dontrelle Willis in Game 162. The Mets needed to win the game to force a one-game playoff. The Marlins needed that game for…well nothing really. Except pride. And as Milledge slowly jogged to retrieve the ball, Willis sprinted towards third. Milledge turned a double into a triple in the most important game of his life.
The next season Luis Castillo routinely jogged towards first while Carlos Delgado barely moved at all. Until Willie Randolph got fired, and then all of a sudden Delgado played like an MVP.
Last season I had to endure Carlos Beltran ripping his teammates for getting swept in Pittsburgh, and then ripping a double in his first at bat in the next series. Problem was it should have been a triple but Beltran stared at the ball, jogged towards first, and then went into a full sprint after he realized it wasn’t a home run. The third baseman had the ball and waited for Beltran to be tagged out.
Great speech Beltran, maybe next time back it up with your actions. You also had Gary Sheffield routinely jogging on balls that smacked off the walls, Jose Reyes standing and being tagged out instead of sliding and the great Fernando Martinez watching a pop up drop in his second Major League game.
All the while Jerry “The Enabler” Manuel sat and did nothing. How could I freaking root for this team if they didn’t seem to root for themselves?!?!?
And then something happened. I don’t know what happened but it appeared Manuel did his best Popeye impersonation because it was all he could stands and he cant stands no more.
This season every ground ball the Mets run out. They slide, take the extra base, force throws, hurry their opposition, etc. Basically, play the game the way its supposed to be played. Hard. Really, baseball like it oughta be.
Now I know what most people will say. So what? They still stink. But that’s not even true. The Mets don’t stink. They aren’t really good, they aren’t really bad. Beltran and Reyes seemed to get old fast, Jason Bay has turned into Jason Bust and Cinderella struck Midnight along time ago for Jeff Francoeur and Rod Barajas.
But you know what? I don’t care. I honestly would rather lose with my team playing with grit, determination, and heart, then win with an abundance of talent. I know I’m in the vast/vast/vast/vast/vast minority, but that’s just how I roll I guess.
Looking ahead, the future is bleak for the Mets and most of their fans. But not for me. I’m enjoying every single second of this season. And truthfully, its my favorite since 1986.